After assisting director Prakash Jha on films like Gangaajal and Rajneeti, LSR alum Alankrita Shrivastava debuted with Turning 30 in 2011. She, however, came to the forefront with the critically-acclaimed Lipstick Under My Burkha last year, which won several awards internationally (but came under fire with the censor board and released after much trouble back home). Today, Alankrita writes about where she draws her inspiration as a filmmaker.
I feel film is a coming together of many art forms. As a filmmaker I feel it is natural to be interested in art and literature, music and theatre, apart from just films.
Personally, I would much rather read a book than watch a film. I find reading to be a far more immersive and freeing experience. I am a happy person when I am in the middle of a book I am enjoying.
I’ve never seriously read any books on how to make films. So I cannot offer any advice on what books to read to help make one’s first film.
I have always read a lot of books written by female authors that explore the female experience. Those books have really influenced me as a person and in terms of my voice and preoccupation as a filmmaker.
Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Elfriede Jelinek and more recently Barbara Pym, Penelope Fitzgerald, Elena Ferrante, Lucia Berlin are some of the female writers I love.
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The book that gave me a lot of strength while I was making my first film, Turning 30, was Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.
It chronicles, so beautifully, the complex interior world of a woman.
I even made Gul (Gul Panag, who played the lead in Turning 30) read passages from the book as part of our prep for the film. (And I made Gul’s character read the book in a montage sequence in the film).
I cannot imagine living my life without books. So, I cannot imagine writing and directing films if I didn’t read books.
So my advice to upcoming filmmakers would be to read what they love. And that, perhaps, may help them hone their own cinematic voices.
By Alankrita Srivastava